One of our favorite simple machines to make is the automata sculpture, which uses cams and cranks to move a sculptural element. This activity allows the students to experience the components of the simple machine while also personalizing their creation to tell their own story. Having a few examples of different automata components is helpful, but there are also great videos that show the inner workings of these unique sculptures consider watching this video montage of an automata museum display or this CBS special on automata with connections to the popular book and movie, Hugo.
The Tinkering Studio has a great set of instructions for facilitating cardboard automata with children, including best practices considerations and ways of tying the sculpture to storytelling. We recommend letting the students experiment by building a generic automata with a simple cam follower and crank mechanism that will allow them to switch out different cams circles, ovals, etc. This allows them to really get hands-on experience with the different movement possibilities, which can further spark their design and let them experiment with how they can animate a scene or character to tell a story.
About this product. Additional Information from Movie Mars Product Description Explains how to design and construct small scale, simple mechanical devices using a variety of materials including paper, wood, wire, tinplate, and plastics; and such mechanisms as levers, wheels, gears, pulleys, springs, and ratchets. Shipping and handling.
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Making Simple Automata
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Making Moving Toys and Automata
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